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Refugee crisis: latest news from across Europe
18-20.6.18
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Keep in touch: Statewatch Observatory: Refugee crisis in the Med and inside the EU: Daily news (updated through the day), commentaries and official documents
EU: Court of Justice: Member States are entitled to adopt a return decision as soon as an application for international protection is rejected, provided that the return procedure is suspended pending the outcome of an appeal against that rejection (press release, pdf):

"In today's judgment, the Court of Justice finds that an applicant for international protection falls within the scope of the directive on returning illegally staying non-EU nationals as soon as his application for international protection has been rejected by the responsible authority. In that regard, the Court notes that the authorisation to remain in the territory of the Member State concerned for the purposes of exercising the right to an effective remedy against that rejection decision does not preclude the conclusion that, as soon as that rejection decision is adopted, the stay of the person concerned becomes, in principle, illegal (...)

The Court also notes that Member States are required to provide an effective remedy against the decision rejecting the application for international protection, in accordance with the principle of equality of arms, which means, in particular, that all the effects of the return decision must be suspended during the period prescribed for lodging such an appeal and, if such an appeal is lodged, until resolution of the appeal."

See the judgment: Sadikou Gnandi v Belgium (Case C-181/16, French only, pdf)

Belgium: Council for Alien Law Litigation rules that Dublin transfers to Greece require a case by case analysis

On 8 June 2018, the Belgian Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALLL) ruled on case no. 205104, which concerned an appeal against a Dublin transfer from Belgium to Greece of an applicant from Palestine. The applicant arrived and lodged an asylum application in Belgium in October 2017. Since he was in possession of a valid visa delivered by Greece, Belgium sent a “take charge” request to Greece on the application of the Dublin III Regulation. The applicant appealed against this decision before the CALL based on, inter alia, the alleged existence of systematic deficiencies in the asylum and reception systems in Greece.

EU-Ethiopia return procedures: Council fails to answer three simple questions

On 15 February 2018 Judith Sargentini MEP asked the Council of the EU three questions concerning procedures for returning Ethiopians to their country of origin, which were approved by the Council at the end of January. The Council's answer came over four months later, on 18 June, and fails to answer any of the questions effectively.

EU to consider plans for migrant processing centres in north Africa

"The EU is to consider the idea of building migrant processing centres in north Africa in an attempt to deter people from making life-threatening journeys to Europe across the Mediterranean, according to a leaked document.

The European council of EU leaders “supports the development of the concept of regional disembarkation platforms”, according to the draft conclusions of an EU summit due to take place next week (pdf).

HUNGARY: The “Stop Soros” bill revisited (Hungarian Spectrum, link):

"Tomorrow is D-Day for the so-called “Stop Soros” legislative package. At 3 p.m. the Fidesz voting machine, perhaps with the assistance of Jobbik, will accept all of the provisions of the 7th amendment to the constitution.

Since January, when it was first proposed and failed to pass because Fidesz didn’t have a super majority in parliament at that time, the bill has gone through several iterations. In the first version, foreign-financed organizations “supporting illegal immigration” were to be registered and a tax imposed on them. The bill would have included the issuance of restraining orders in an 8-km border zone in the case of Hungarian citizens; non-Hungarian supporters of illegal immigration would have been barred from Hungary altogether. All this was unconstitutional as far as Hungarian law was concerned and illegal under the laws of the European Union."

115 rescued, 5 dead in Libya wreck - Libyan Navy (Info Migrants, link)

"Libyan coast guards have rescued 115 migrants off Mellitah, west of Tripoli, according to a statement posted on Facebook by Libya's Navy. At least five were reported dead in the shipwreck.

Libyan coast guards rescued 115 migrants, including two children and 22 women aboard a rubber dinghy taking on water some eight miles north of Mellitah, west of Tripoli, the Libyan Navy said in a statement published on Facebook Tuesday. They were also reportedly able to ''recover five bodies,'' including three men and two women, according to the statement.

The coast guard vessel "Ras Jedir" carried out the rescue operation and saved migrants from different African countries and four Pakistanis. The statement said high waves had "destroyed part of the dinghy" and "some undocumented migrants fell into the sea," without elaborating."

European Migration Network: Annual Report on Migration and Asylum 2017 (pdf):

Covers: 1. Legal migration and mobility; 2. International protection including asylum; 3. Unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable groups; 4. Integration; 5. Irregular migration including border control; 6. Return; 7. Actions addressing trafficking in human beings; 8. Maximising the development impact of migration and mobility.

EU: Resettlement of refugees: 11 Member States insist on using resettlement as "a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries"

11 Member States are insistent on the need for a new scheme on the resettlement of refugees into the EU to be used as an instrument for trying to ensure that 'third countries' cooperate with EU policies on migration.

Sweden, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Romania, Croatia, Italy, Poland, Greece, Malta, Austria and Ireland have "[stressed] the need to retain in the text the idea that resettlement is a tool for migration management and cooperation with third countries," according to a note distributed by COREPER (the Committee of Permanent Representatives, made up of Member States' head officials in Brussels) in response to a Bulgarian Council Presidency note drafted at the beginning of this month.

Greece: A New Nightmare: Picked up in the Aegean and Returned to Syria (Samos Chronicles, link):

"For the past ten days I have been waiting for news from Mohammad. Like me he comes from Aleppo but for the past 6 years he has been with his mother and brother living in Istanbul. Mohammad is 18 years old.

We became friends through Facebook where he saw that I was involved with many refugees in Athens and in Samos. He had read my story in the Samos Chronicles. As a young gay man he turned to me for advice and help which I was happy to give. Over the past six months we have talked a lot and a good friendship has developed. I know that he trusts me...."

MEP: In the long term, migrants will be part of solution in Europe (euractiv, link):

"More and more voices are calling for an urgent reform of the strained Dublin asylum system as migrants continue arriving across the Mediterranean and migration takes centre stage in Europe again.

In an interview with EURACTIV’s Karolina Zbytniewska, Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP for the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, is positive: “If we did not have the Dublin rules or if we had changed them, we wouldn’t be having what is now happening in Italian ports and in the Mediterranean.”

Migrant feud casts shadow as Macron and Merkel seek EU roadmap (euractiv, link):

"French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Germany tomorrow (19 June) seeking progress with Chancellor Angela Merkel on elusive eurozone reforms, but the deepening EU rifts over migration threaten to dominate an already daunting agenda."

EU: European Asylum Support Office (EASO): Annual report 2017 (pdf):

"Importantly, recognition rates tend to vary across EU+ countries, at both relatively low and high values of the recognition rates, in particular for applicants from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, where the recognition rate ranged between 0 and 100 %. For others, there was relatively more convergence at higher (e.g. Eritrea and Syria) and lower (e.g. Albania and Nigeria) recognition rates."

See also: Sharp fall in number of people seeking asylum in EU (Guarsian, link): "Almost 730,000 applications were made in 2017, a 44% drop on the 1.3m made in 2016."

EU: The future of free movement of persons in the UK (Part 1) (EU Law Analysis, lnk):

"Concerns about immigration were a - no, probably the - main reason why many voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016. There was a strong perception that the UK had ‘lost control’ of its borders; a Leave vote would enable the UK government to take back that control."

EU: Refugees in Orbit – again! (Verfassungsblog, link):

"Matteo Salvini, Italy’s new far-right home secretary, tweeted “Vittoria!” after news broke that the 629 persons stranded aboard the M.S. Aquarius would be forced to proceed to the Spanish city of Valencia rather than being allowed to disembark at much closer ports in Sicily (...)

But is it a victory for Italy, as the home secretary presumably meant to suggest? There is no doubt that Italy (and to a much greater extent, Greece) has shouldered more than its fair share of refugees arriving to seek protection in Europe. Nor can it be doubted that Europe and the rest of the world have acted too slowly and undependably to share-out what is in principle a common responsibility to protect refugees, thus fueling frustration and even anger. The EU’s absurd “Dublin Regulation” rule that allocates nearly all protection duties to the first country in which a refugee arrives is both unprincipled and cruel. So while nothing can justify Italy’s flagrant breach of the duty to facilitate speedy disembarkation of those rescued, its determination to force a redistribution of responsibility is perhaps more comprehensible.

In truth, the real villain here is an outmoded system of implementing protection obligations under the UN’s Refugee Convention. Under the status quo, whatever country a refugee reaches is the one and only country that has protection obligations to that refugee. Accidents of geography, rather than any principled metric, determine which states are obliged to carry the burdens for implementing what is in theory a universal duty to protect refugees."

TURKEY-AFGHANISTAN: Their Road to Turkey Was Long and Grueling, but the Short Flight Home Was Crueler (New York Times, link):

"KABUL, Afghanistan — Their desperate journey out of Afghanistan, en route to safer lives in Europe, had taken months through high mountains and treacherous deserts.

They survived bullets, beatings and insults from border guards. Bandits stripped them of nearly everything except their shoes and clothes — which over the months of the journey they would wash in whatever puddle or pool was available, laying the clothes out in the sun to dry and then wear again.

But their migration halted suddenly in Turkey, and now they were being deported to a home country racked by war. I flew with them on the return flight to Kabul from Istanbul that finally ended their hopes. It took just five hours last month."

Italy bars two more refugee ships from ports (The Guardian, link):

"Italy’s interior minister has sparked a new migration crisis in the Mediterranean by barring two rescue boats from bringing refugees to shore, a week after the Aquarius was prevented from docking.

“Two other ships with the flag of Netherlands, Lifeline and Seefuchs, have arrived off the coast of Libya, waiting for their load of human beings abandoned by the smugglers,” Matteo Salvini, the leader of the anti-immigrant party the League, wrote on his Facebook page. “These gentlemen know that Italy no longer wants to be complicit in the business of illegal immigration, and therefore will have to look for other ports [not Italian] where to go.”

Italy’s closure of its ports to the migrant rescue ship Aquarius, which was carrying 620 people, triggered warnings from aid agencies of a deadly summer at sea for people trying to cross the Mediterranean."

EU: The EU’s Answer to Migration Is to Triple Funding for Border Management. Will This Do the Job? (Center for Global Development, link)

"Earlier this week, the European Commission published its proposals on migration and border security for the next EU budget (2021–2027). Financial support for migration, asylum, and border management is to almost triple, from €13 billion to €34.9 billion. What might this mean for the EU and future migration flows? (...)

The Aquarius incident serves as a reminder of how much pressure the unresolved migration challenges put on the EU’s internal cohesion. There is major disagreement on the future of migration policy within Europe, with Southern European states disagreeing and a deep East-West divide, especially as Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic refuse to take part in resettlement efforts for a fairer European allocation of asylum seekers, leading to the Commission launching infringement procedures against these member states last year. The unprecedented increase in funding for border management in the MFF seems to reflect the “principle of hope” that more money will do the job in reducing internal tensions during the budgetary negotiations. However, in the long-term and given the absence of legal migration mechanism and the EU’s struggle to build a coherent asylum system by successfully revising the Dublin regulation, population growth, instability, and economic development in Africa could drive more people into risking the dangerous trip across the Mediterranean, irrespective of cutting-edge border management technologies."

See: Massive funding increases proposed for internal security, border security and migration: full documentation

Big Data, Big Promises: Revisiting Migration Statistics in Context of the Datafication of Everything (Border Criminologies, link):

"We are witnessing the datafication of mobility and migration management across the world. In the context of Europe, programs like Eurosur use satellite images for surveilling the EU’s maritime borders, while the so-called hotspot approach aims to register all newly arriving migrants in biometric databases. Similarly, in the field of asylum, biometric databases are built for purposes of refugee management, while asylum seekers in Greece are distributed cash-cards. These new types and collections of data do not only change border and migration management practices. They also reconfigure how human mobility and migration are known and constituted as intelligible objects of government. The crucial innovation driving this datafication is the digitization of information that was previously stored – if at all – on paper files. This information is now available in a range of databases and can – at least in theory – be searched, exchanged, linked, and analysed with unprecedented scope and efficiency (...)

The ‘huge potential of Big Data’ to provide accurate and up-to-date accounts of international migration is promoted. Nevertheless, the promises driving these efforts are just as big as the data they refer to. In this post, we briefly discuss three reasons why it is rather unlikely that Big Data will simply solve the most important known limitations of migration statistics. Each reason is related to a form of politics which, taken together, shape the quantification of migration."

EU: Mastermind smuggler involved in 2015 migrant crisis arrested in Greece (Europol press release, pdf):

"One of most prolific migrant smugglers along the Western Balkan route was arrested in Athens on 12 June 2018 after very close cooperation between the Hellenic Police (Aliens Division of Attica), the Hungarian National Police (National Bureau of Investigation Illegal Immigration Unit) and Europol. The suspect, a Syrian national, was apprehended in Athens together with an accomplice who is involved in document fraud.

The main suspect, based in Hungary, was involved in the transport of migrants in 2015 and 2016. At that time, he was under investigation in different EU Member States for facilitating several smuggling incidents between Hungary and Germany. The investigation showed that he moved to Greece after the closure of the Western Balkan route to continue his criminal activities. Based on this information, a European Arrest Warrant was issued by Hungary. After an excellent exchange of information via Europol, both the Hellenic and Hungarian authorities met for a final operational meeting with the European Union Task Force (EURTF) in Greece to discuss future steps in the investigation."

See also in a seperate case: Greece: Leaders of Smuggling Network get 1,400 Year Sentence (OCCRP, link)

EU: BARCA NOSTRA - A Monument to the European Union (link)

"BARCA NOSTRA, a migrant initiative, announces the launch of its petition for the procession ‘March from Palermo to Brussels - A Monument to the European Union’ to bring the recovered refugee shipwreck from the 18th April 2015 from Italy to Brussels and install it as a permanent monument in the heart of the headquarters of European politics.

The procession through Europe with the recovered shipwreck of the refugee boat that sank in the Sicilian Channel in spring 2015, will start in Palermo in summer 2018 - referencing the Charter of Palermo and the freedom of movement as a human right, as well as the local tradition of the syncretic Santa Rosalia procession as a victory over the plague and a celebration of life.

The procession will move through Italy, crossing the borders of France, Germany and Belgium, to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. There the shipwreck will come to its final halt and be displayed permanently in front of the European Council and Commission as a reminder of and transnational monument to Europe’s failed migration policies and its legislative machine that creates illegality and social destruction."

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